By: Jeffrey Lapin

Top Consumer Complaints from 2011

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA), with assistance from the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI), has issued its 2011 Consumer Complaint Survey Report, which, among other things, lists the top 10, actually 12, consumer complaints from 2011. In addition, the Report identifies the fastest growing complaints, worst complaints, and newer types of consumer problems. Finally, it offers suggestions for new consumer protection laws and tips for consumers for dealing with many of these consumer problems.


The CFA and NACPI partnered to conduct a survey to study consumer complaints for 2011. The CFA (Consumer Federation of America (CFA) website) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance consumers interest through research, advocacy, and education. The North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI) (North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI) website) is another organization whose purpose is to “provide a medium through which the consumer protection investigators” receive education, network, exchange information and cooperate in all consumer protection investigation matters.

These two organizations compiled information from a number of different, states, counties and city agencies. Their findings were released on July 31, 2012, in the 2011 Consumer Complaint Survey Report (Click here to read the 2011 Consumer Complaint Survey). The Report identifies the top consumer complaints from 2011. In addition, it tracks: the fastest growing complaints area; the worst complaints; and newer types of consumer problems. Finally, the Report offers suggestions for new consumer protection laws and tips for consumers for dealing with many of these problems.


The 2011 Consumer Complaint Survey Report identifies, based on its research, the top 10 consumer complaints for 2011. Actually, it contains 12 consumer reports as there were a couple of ties. The top 2011 consumer complaints cited in the Report were:

  1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes
  2. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics
  3. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job
  4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver
  5. Utilities: Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas services
  6. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform
  7. (tie) Internet Sales:  Misrepresentations or other deceptive practice, failure to deliver online purchases
  8. (tie) Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics
  9. Fraud: Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, the grandparent scam and other common frauds
  10. Real Estate: Timeshare sales and re-sales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities, real estate fraud
  11. (tie) Household Goods:  Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances
  12. (tie) Home Solicitations:  Misrepresentations or failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations

Most of these were also on the 2010 Report with some in the exact same place as 2011. The only new complaint for 2011 was Real Estate.


The 2011 Consumer Complaint Survey Report also lists the fastest growing complaints for 2011, which were:

  • Fraud
  • Debt collection abuses
  • Do Not Call violations
  • Mortgage-related problems
  • Home improvement
  • Auto repossessions
  • Bed bugs, mold and other landlord/tenant problems
  • Bundled utility services
  • Computer sales
  • Fraudulent rentals of foreclosed property
  • Free trial offers for buyers’ clubs, vacation clubs and other types of memberships
  • Health products and services
  • Internet sales
  • Locksmiths
  • Timeshare sales
  • Wireless phone services

The first five listed were the top fastest-growing complaints for 2011. Debt collection abuse and Do Not Call violations are governed by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) respectively. These Acts provide consumers relief, through monetary payments, for violations.


The Report also notes the worst complaints reported last year. “Worst complaints” were based on, depending on the reporting agency: number of complaints about a particular subject; the dollar amount involved; the impact on particularly vulnerable consumers; the outrageousness of the situation; and other factors the agencies chose. The worst complaints for 2011 were:

  • Mortgage-related problems
  • Home improvement
  • Timeshare sales and re-sales
  • Internet sales
  • Fraud
  • Auto sales
  • Bed bugs, mold and other landlord/tenant problems
  • Computer sales
  • Debt collection
  • Do Not Call violations
  • Free trial offers
  • Fuel sales
  • Funeral-related services
  • Health products and services
  • Immigration consultants
  • Locksmiths
  • Payday loans
  • Slamming and other telephone-related problems
  • Towing

The first five listed were the top cited worst complaints for 2011.


Many consumer complaints show up every year. The most common complaint for 2011 was once again auto-related. Credit and debt complaints were the second most common complaint but were also contained with the fastest-growing and worst problems lists as well. In addition, fraud was contained within all three lists. While some of these complaints may be unavoidable, consumers should take every precaution to protect themselves from fraud, which is the one area they have the most control over.

Consumers have rights for debt, credit, telemarketing and Do Not Call violations. The FDCPA and TCPA allow consumers to sue entities for violations in these areas and collect statutory damages. For FDCPA violations consumers can collect up to $1,000.00. Under the TCPA, a consumer can receive up to $1,500.00 per violation.



Lapin Law OfficesLapin Law Offices represents persons harassed or abused by debt collectors and telemarketers. To learn if you have a case contact us anytime at 402-421-8033 (Lincoln), 888-525-8819 (toll free) or through our websites: Lapin Law Offices or StopBadCollectors.  We offer a free consultation and do not charge an attorney fee unless we collect money for you.